In the introduction to A History of Negroes in Muncie, authors Hurley Goodall and J. Paul Mitchell wrote that African Americans “have lived in Muncie and Delaware County almost from the time the city and the county were organized.” But they go on to say, “Yet, historians have paid them little attention.” As has been pointed out by many scholars, the original Middletown study by Robert and Helen Lynd virtually ignored the African American population of Muncie. Goodall’s and Mitchell’s 1976 work set out to correct this long standing oversight.

Highland Café
Behind the counter at the Highland Café are (left to right) cook Theodore “Bus” Phillips, co-owners Thelma and John Bragg, and two unidentified employees. The Highland Café was located at 1622 Highland Avenue.
“The Other Side of Middletown” Collection, EF2-079

In the epilogue to their History, the authors stated that “much remains hidden from view and that this tale leaves a great deal unsaid” and that the “History of the Black Community in Muncie is an ongoing process which can only be completed with the help of its main characters.” The “ongoing process” got new life in 2003-04 when Goodall, Eric Lassister, Elizabeth Campbell, Michelle Natasya Johnson, and a group of Ball State students undertook a collaborative project, working with the local African American community, which resulted in the publication of The Other Side of Middletown: Exploring Muncie’s African American Community.

The Mignonette Club
Mignonette members pose at a club dance on June 15, 1956. A social club for women, the Mignonette Club was organized in 1954.
“The Other Side of Middletown” Collection, EF2-89

As these valuable works and others attempt to fill the earlier void of documenting Muncie African American history, the Archives and Special Collections of the Ball State University Libraries has been pleased to collect, preserve, and make available resources to support such efforts. This exhibit provides a glimpse of the photographic resources on local African American history that are available in the Archives.


Muncie Malleable Foundry Bowling Team
Among the members of the team was Hurley Goodall (far right), who would later become the first African American member of the Muncie School Board and would serve seven terms in the Indiana General Assembly.
“The Other Side of Middletown” Collection, EF2-068

This exhibit was on display at the Mitchell Place Gallery from February 3-15, 2005, and in Bracken Library from February 21-March 31, 2005.

Credits: The exhibit was prepared by Jane Gastineau and graduate assistant Anne Tonne. The introduction was written by John Straw. The Web site was designed by Daniel Harwig. The exhibit banner was designed by Nicole Werner.